Friday, December 11, 2009

Warming up my heart!

In a freezing cold December day, after fighting with my daughter who is - if you ask me what's wrong with her - possessed by evil spirits from time to time...I find support in GUESS WHAT?


I don't necessarily eat kilos of it at once, but I need some.
Thanks to the kind people who know me so well and instead of flowers just bring me a bar of dark chocolate (more than 70% cacao that is) as a present.
Sorry for those who bring flowers, I like them a lot but it obviously ain't enough to keep them alive. Sigh.

Said that, I will post my last Japan pics, those of Shikoku. I wish we had more time to visit this wonderful area of Japan - will there be a next time?I don't know.

In the distance you can se the Seto Ō-hashi bridge 瀬戸大橋 that connects Honshu with Shikoku, namely the beautiful old city of Kurashiki in Okayama-ken and that of Sakaide in Kagawa-ken, stretching for 13 km over five islands on the Seto Sea.

If you ever happen to stop here, there is a Kinokuniya bookstore and the second best gelato - maccha gelato!!! - we had during this trip.

Bicycle parking - why don't we have those in Europe?

We spent two nights in a cheap hotel - tatami room! - in Takamatsu, the capital of Kagawa-ken, which is interesting and odd at the same time. The harbor area isn't that bad, the station is also close, but still the city center is located further south.
Well, it isn't probably so strange. If you think that tsunami 津波 are nothing exceptional here, it is quite reasonable to have a downtown separated from the harbor. Also, the original meaning of tsunami is "harbor wave".

Downtown Takamatsu means a connection of shopping arcades - I love them, you can walk and be kind of outside but you are covered if the weather is bad - under which people ride their bicycles like mad.
Riding a bicycle is very common in Japan.
It's not the lawless riding of Chinese people but nevertheless - being the rules kind of exoteric - it requires a certain wariness.

I do love this ad, isn't it sweet?

View over Takamatsu from Yashima peninsula

This peninsula is nothing but a lava plateau - i.e. a large and rather flat surface formed by a fast outpouring of lava out of the crust.
Looking at the area around Yashima one can observe the layers that form the peninsula itself.

On the peninsula, the Yashimaji, number 84 of 88 pilgrimage temples in Shikoku.

Near the main temple hall you'll find a Tanuki temple.
Tanuki are Japanese raccoons, famous in folk tales for their mischievous attitude and ability to disguise themselves.
Some seem to be naughtier than other, but mostly those you find outside restaurants are benevolent ones - don't worry!

view of the islands in front of Takamatsu from the observation point

After two days in Takamatsu, where we also visited the city museum and the exhibition "It's a Rumic world", we took the ferry to Ikeda port in Shodoshima, also called Olive Island because of the olive cultivation, that was actually the first in Japan.
As you'd expect from a place where olives can grow, the climate was very pleasant, still warm during the day and just a bit fresher in the evening - I can never get enough of it!!!

The Ikeda ferry terminal area was pretty much a ghost town: no restaurants, no convenient stores...sure enough there were vending machines - is there a vending machine goddess yet?

Anyway, we took the east-bound bus and, after couple of adventurous stops, we landed in a dismissed bikers hotel where we got a room with a view on the harbor.

Not bad!

But this was also in a very sleepy area, namely Sakate, where the ferry to Osaka only run in summer and where all shops were closed.
Very odd, but very beautiful anyway.

You can judge the dimensions of the house looking at the stroller on the right side...

We had - at least - a bus station in walking distance...

After visiting Shōdoshima we returned on our steps in direction of Tōkyō with a short stop in Himeji - which I didn't really like - and a night in Kōbe.
Should you ever need an hotel in Kōbe, you can ask me anytime for advice..(I guess I know most of them NOW because we had to find a room and had no reservation on a week-end where they were all booked out - what a pain!!).

Our last night we were in a hotel in Tōkyō, Asakusa, where we had the top best maccha gelato!!!
But not before having dinner, of course.

The soup that makes us soo happy!!

And of course a stroll around Asakusa Temple and to the Kaminarimon.
-sigh- Japan, how beautiful!!!

Despite all her contradictions and the obvious diversity with any western country, this is for me still a land to fall in love with.

With that I won't bother you anymore and will go on telling about the life on the other Island.

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